Supplying bioactives Compounds from micro-Algae to foster a bLue futurE.
The current food system is seriously challenged by evolving consumers needs and by the rapid world population growth, which could peak to 9.7 billion people in 2060. To provide food system with high nutritional value ingredients, it becomes of paramount important to harness the potential of the oceans in an environmentally responsible manner. Microalgae are a highly promising source of aquatic biomasses and find applications in a wide range of fields, including nutrition and well-being. Currently, no large-scale industrial production site provides access to the exceptional biodiversity of microalgae in an efficient way. Only a few species are produced globally with dedicated production sites. For instance, 70% of the market is currently represented by Spirulina and Chlorella.
The SCALE project strives to build and operate a first-of-its-kind flagship plant producing ingredients with high nutritional value derived from the untapped microalgae diversity, for food, food supplements, feed and cosmetics sectors, through economically-sound processes and in an environmentally friendly way. This Flagship project is based on the unique and cutting-edge CAMARGUE photobioreactor technology developed and patented by Microphyt, a French leading SME in microalgae-based natural solutions for nutrition and well-being.
The CAMARGUE technology currently operating and running at demo plant offers both high differentiation potential and the ability to supply natural active ingredients in an industrial and standardized way. SCALE will transfer this technology from the demo plant to the industrial Flagship plant able to produce large-scale volumes of high-value ingredients of unique microalgae species that cannot be supplied from other production technologies.
To do so, SCALE project gathers 11 key EU and international partners in an integrated value chain from microalgae production to high value ingredients extraction of bioactives compounds and end-use applications in food, food supplements, feed, and cosmetic domains.
The overarching objective of the SCALE project is to demonstrate the viability of industrial scale microalgae production in a way that is environmentally and economically sound. Within this, it will pursue a number of specific objectives.
- From an environmental perspective, it will play an important role in reducing dependency on fossil-based resources by replacing them with sustainable alternatives. For example, it will produce alternatives to animal-derived products in areas such as food and food supplements. In addition, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions; indeed, as the cultivation process does not produce any GHGs, and can act as a CO2 sink; as such it will contribute the EU’s overarching climate change ambitions. It will also maintain, and seek to increase, marine biodiversity.
- From an economic perspective, it will help establish and grow the European algae production sector, making it more competitive. As an immediate impact, the flagship production biorefinery will create some 50 to 60 direct jobs and 190 indirect jobs in the food, food supplements, feed and cosmetics industry as well as in the construction and engineering sectors. The biorefinery will be reproduced at several further sites in a second stage.
- From a societal perspective, it will strengthen local and sustainable development in the region of Occitania, where the initial biorefinery will be sited. It will also bring investment and new jobs to a rural area. Importantly, it will not increase pressure on land use, as it ten times more eco-efficient than conventional cultivation approaches.
The SCALE project is aiming at delivering a number of specific impacts that will contribute to the numerous goals of the BBI-JU. These will include:
- Establishing five new cross-sector interconnections in the biobased economy between the microalgae sector, connecting it with the food, food supplement, feed, cosmetics and technology sectors.
- Creating four new bio-based value chains running from raw material supply to the final products in the food, food supplement, feed and cosmetics sectors.
- Supplying & testing eight new ingredients for each of the target sectors, contributing microalgae-based active compounds for use in new consumer products.
In addition, the SCALE project will add to, and complement, the base of BBI-JU flagship projects and contribute the wider overall mission of the joint undertaking.